Strength of Strength


Published in Student Edition of Deccan Herald on 12th of February 2019

 Little Banta was watching the children play sitting on his wheel chair with a fractured ankle. He had gotten into a brawl with his younger brother Chintu and hurt himself in the process of pummeling the younger kid. He wished to goodness that he could become well so that he could play again. His mother noticed his helplessness. She felt sorry for him. Yet she knew that Banta had invited trouble for himself. She wanted Banta to stop bullying younger children. She was aware that he was likely to rebel, or submit grudgingly if she were to advise him. So she asked him what strength meant to him. Banta gushed with excitement. To him strength was synonymous with Bheema.
Even as he was uttered the name   Bheemasena his personal hero, Banta was filled with pride. To him Bheema was a symbol of towering strength and gigantic personality, the strongest amongst his brothers, besides he was talented and skilled too. Besides, his role model excelled in wrestling, wielding the mace and had amazing culinary skills too. Banta was never tired of listening to Bheema’s exploits.

So, his mother decided to narrate one of the numerous stories of his favourite hero from the great Indian epic The Mahabharatha.
While the Pandavas were in the forest, a Brahmin household gave them shelter for a short time. During this period, the Pandavas learnt that a demon named Bakasura who dwelt nearby had made a pact with the villagers that everyday a cart load of food would be sent to him for dinner. The demon would gobble the cartload of food and also eat up the driver as a part of his meal.
The villagers were angry with the demon’s cruelty. They hated him. They were terrified of his strength. They wanted to teach him a lesson. But unfortunately they could not bring themselves to confront Bakasura or in any way.

That day it was the turn of the host family to send one member of their family as lunch to Bakasura. The very thought of it made the family sad and depressed. The Pandavas felt very sorry for them. Even as they were wondering as to how to help the family,Bheemasena  volunteered to take the food cart to Bakasura.
The following day, Bheema escorted the cartload of food to the forest. When he reached the demon’s cave he dismounted the cart and spread out the food. He heard the demon snoring. He realised that he had not eaten a sumptuous dinner for a long time now. So he helped himself to the feast. When he was through with all the goodies, he belched loudly.

Bakasura woke from his slumber and came out of his cave. The sight of the empty vessels infuriated the demon. He pounced on Bheemasena with all his might. Soon they started wrestling. After fighting an equal battle for sometime, Bheema overcame the demon and swooped him up in the air. He used all his might to twirl the demon over his head and threw him to his death.
When Banta’s mother finished narrating the story, she gently pointed out that both Bheema and Bakasura were endowed with equal strength, but interestingly enough they both were looked upon differently by the people. While Bakasura used his strength to terrorise and destroy people, Bheema used his strength to protect and empower the weak.
Bheema was not merely strong. He knew how and when to use his strength. Soon Banta realised that he should not have displayed his strength on his younger sibling. He looked at his ankle in plaster and told his little brother to fetch his sketch pens. When Chintu did his bidding meekly, Banta asked Chintu to use his cast as a canvass. Soon the brothers were laughing and enjoying each other’s creativity while their  mother fetched them their favourite smoothies with a smile.

Sankranthi Shopping


Published in student edition of Deccan Herald dated 14th January 2019

The ushering in of the “Uttarayana Punyakala” popularly known as Sankranthi, is feted variously across the Indian continent. Yet the concept of the celebration is much the same across the nation. The largely agrarian population is glad that the hard winter days are coming to an end and it is time for them to reap the well deserved harvest of their sweat and toil.

Sankranthi times in our country invariably spell a lot of prayer, fervour and joy not necessarily in that order. The thought of breaking away from the normal routine of life and indulging in a faithful and felicitous celebrations have kept the Indian race on their toes. Preparations for festivals begin days ahead of the red lettered day in order to gear up for the occasion.

Long ago, when supermarkets and malls had still not caught up with large sections Indian population, the barter system was the order of the day. People seemed to personify the essence of Khalil Gibran’s thought process when he said,

“To you the earth yields her fruit and you shall not want if you but know how to fill your hands.

It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied.”

Farmers generally harvest sugarcane, rice, wheat and a couple of pulses besides a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables during this season. In the past they would take stock of their resources and utilize their excesses to get themselves their requisite necessities. Over a period of time bartering gave way to small time trading when people used to sell their goods and buy the things they needed. Usually they indulged in spending their money at wholesale markets which offered them the best bargains.

Then, just like everything else in life the process of shopping metamorphosed from the friendly neighbourhood kirana shops to departmental stores, supermarkets and eventually to massive mall which claim to sell wares for all your needs under one roof.

Though the method of shopping for our needs, comforts and luxuries has come a long way from the days we bartered to the present day credit card culture, the concept of shopping is pretty much the same. There was a time when the ladies of the house would forgo their siestas at least a fortnight before Sankranthi to organise themselves for the big day. They had to shell and roast peanuts, gram and gingelly seeds, slice copra, granulate jaggery and fashion cubes and dolls from sugar syrup and stock them up to be distributed among friends and relatives on the day of the festival.

These days working women in cities find time scarce to indulge in the long drawn process. This certainly does not mean that people do not celebrate the festival in the traditional manner anymore. The milling crowds in the markets and malls during festival season selling the quintessential “ellu bella” in neat packets or little boxes besides variously crafted sugar cubes and dolls is proof enough that tradition is very much alive. If one is willing to shell out a little more money one can actually place orders for customized products which even include neatly chopped sugarcane sticks. Similarly, if one is running short of time or simply does not feel like cooking up an orgy, a horde of restaurants, food courts and smalltime catering units cook and serve the customary Pongal, vada along with the conventional fare.

People shop for the specific needs of the festival besides picking up clothes, furniture, electronic appliances or anything else they fancy during these times as shrewd retailers and dealers cash in on the sentiments of the people by offering discounts, freebies and exchange offers.

This changing trend which has retained the core value of the festivities has been possible because the average Indian likes to be rooted to his culture but does not quite mind the idea of using modern facilities and technology to serve his purpose. Happy Sankranthi!

Manage Your Energy Field


Wednesday, November 14, 2018 DECCAN HERALD Student Edition 3
Open Space

How many times have you not heard
the elders around you speaking about
energy? You have probably wondered
what it could all be about. A little
more observation and listening must
have made you understand that they are not
speaking about electrical or technological energy.
For that matter they are neither speaking
about energy food and drinks. Well, you are not
wrong, but what exactly is this energy that they
are talking about could be your question.
Are you aware that you have an invisible energy
field around you? It could be a positive one
or a negative one or simply could be a mixture of
both! For those of you who are wondering what
this energy field is all about, it will help you to
know that it has something to do with how you
feel, for most part of the day!
If you are happy, excited, calm or peaceful you
will exude positive energy. On the contrary if
you are sad, discontented, angry or jealous you
will convey negative energy.
Everything in this world is made up of energy
including us.
Energy is volatile. It has the capacity to be
infectious. In other words people around you
can be influenced by your energy or you could
be affected by their moods! Do you remember
that time when you threw this horrible tantrum
which made it difficult for your family to enjoy
at the wedding reception that they attended
later that evening? You were passing on your
bad mood or negative energy to your dear ones.
Just try to recall that time when you won the
running race, you could not stop jumping and
sticking your thumbs up while your whole class
chanted your name ecstatically? You won the
race, but you made your entire class happy and
proud because you ran not only to get yourself
the prize but also represented the class. You just
permeated joy and positive energy in the sports
field.
Then there are times when you find that you
are getting exactly what you do not want or
you are not getting what you want then please
keep in mind that you are simply sending out
the wrong signals. For instance, you can’t go on
sulking, screaming and shouting and expect to
be handled with kid gloves. Similarly if you well
behaved, cheerful and helpful, no one is going to
punch you in the face.
The law of attraction works like this. You are
likely to attract what corresponds to your energy.
Negative energy attracts negative situations.
Positive energy attracts positive situations. If
you change your energy, you will start getting
what you want.
Our energy is based on our thoughts and beliefs
with reference to ethics and integrity!
Our subconscious mind registers our
thoughts and beliefs and
they are unwittingly displayed in our speech
and actions!
If we take some time off to introspect and
make a note of our plus and minus points, it will
be easier for us understand the lacunae in our
behaviour and personality. Once the loopholes
are identified, we must endeavour to set them
right!
If you have still not got it, it is like matching
your clothes and accessories so that you can
look dapper. So also, make it a point to match
your thoughts, words and deeds. That will make
you a responsible and reliable person who will
be adored by everyone.
Change the way you see things and begin
eliminating the negative
thoughts, habits, beliefs and behavioural
patterns. As you continually change the way you
think and see things positively you will naturally
exude warmth and affection and will begin to
attract more positive situations into your life.

Determinaton Vs Obstinacy


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/?pub=pp3-20171212_2&article=7208754666

Many a time people want to achieve their goal by hook or crook. Their very attitude is proof of the fact that they are not in a position to distinguish between determination and obstinacy.

When a person refuses to weigh the pros and cons of a situation and pursues his ambition blindly, he is not only likely to harm the people around him but will wreak havoc on himself both physically and mentally.

An episode from the Mahabharata unfolds the unfortunate repercussions of tenacity. Ashwaththama, the best friend of Duryodhana had promised his dying friend that he would ensure the annihilation of the Pandava family at all costs. He manipulated the death of the Pandavas and ended up killing the five sons of Draupadi. In hindsight, he realised that his mission would be completed if he managed to abort the foetus if princess Uttara who was carrying the posthumous child of Abhimanyu. That way he could effectively put a full stop on the continuance of the Pandava clan. Accordingly, he went to the princess and aimed a potent blade of Darbha grass at her womb. The petrified Uttara ran away in panic. When Ashwaththama chased the pregnant princess, he was intercepted by none other than Lord Krishna.

Krishna understood that the son of Drona was not in a position to distinguish the right from wrong, and there was simply no way he would tarry to listen to the Yadava king. It was then Krishna looked at the gem signifying human intelligence studded on the forehead of the Brahmin. He hastened to pluck it out and prevented the perpetration of foeticide. The mindless Ashwaththama could not focus on his evil undertaking. Thus, Krishna rescued the unborn baby. He ensured that the last scion of the Pandava family – Parikshit- the one who was tested arrived safely on planet earth.

When one examines Ashwaththama’s behaviour, it is not difficult to see that he was being faithful to his friend and true to his promise although his bosom pal was dead. All the same, it is apparent that he lost sight of human propriety in his zeal to redeem his promise. Had he realised that the means is as important as the end he could have spared himself of the ignominy?

Empowered by Powerlessness


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/614907/empowered-powerlessness.html

When Namma Bengaluru decided to keep its temperatures soaring, little did it know that it was uniting the denizens of the city in some way. It had all of us whining endlessly besides prompting us to collectively pray for the rains. The pleased heavens opened up with a hail storm one evening.
Once the initial rejoicing set in, kaput went the transformer. The area was shrouded in the dim fading light of dusk.

Alternative power solutions lit up the homes, offices and shops within seconds. The skies cleared up for the night. Several hours passed. There was no sign of electricity. Complaints were lodged more frantically when the batteries running the show began exhausting. The sporadic showers had escalated the heat indoors. Premises that opened doors even for a moment were invaded by motley insects which decided to plague our homes post rains.

The horribly hot night passed without electricity. The next morning dawned ushering in new problems. We did not have access to water as motor pumps were lying dead without power. Communication was cut off since most cell phones could not be charged. Making breakfast seemed a nightmare to people who heavily depended on toasters, microwaves and juicers.

As daylight enveloped the layout, people who had barely acknowledged one another started speaking in one voice. The limited resources were put to best use. Water, food and cell phones were used judiciously on the basis of priority. A team of people went to the local power station to learn about the actual cause of delay. They found out that the electricians were not lazing around, but had been working on various poles overnight. It was just that the ratio of men was hopelessly low to the number of repairs that they had to make.

A few more powerless (pun intended) hours lapsed. The refrigerators were raided and salvaged food was put to good use. Water tankers were hired to supply water. The children were rallied around and sent off to a movie to keep them cool, well-fed and out of the way. Finally, power was restored late afternoon.

The 20 hours of power cut, which seemed to be a nightmare to live through, was actually an eye opener of sorts. For starters, it revealed how helpless we were without electricity. But more importantly, it helped us renew ties with our neighbourhood on common grounds and appreciate the value of men whose expertise we think is available to us at our beck and call. The power cut which we thought had made us powerless had actually empowered us.

Brace Yourself For The Post Party Syndrome


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http://www.deccanherald.com/content/589106/brace-yourself-post-party-syndrome.html

Calm after the storm

The two-faced Roman god Janus is ready to usher in the new year, while earthlings are partying hard. What many of us do not know is that we are working ourselves into as state of frenzy in the name of unwinding. This is true of those who organise parties as well as those who attend them.

A lot of meticulous planning, precious time and hard-earned money is ploughed into these events by hoteliers and owners of restaurants, bars and pubs besides individuals. Painstakingly decorating the party space, arranging enough food and drinks to go around and organising entertainment programmes takes several months of hard work and networking. Needless to say, this puts a great strain on their nerves.

It’s easy to assume that the party hoppers are a jolly lot, but that is far from the truth. They, for their part, are stressed about what to wear, whose company to seek, how to fit in at the party and get home safely afterwards.

Back to the grind

While all the music, dancing and socialising is fun while it lasts, the morning after generally brings along a hangover or worse, depression and loneliness. The post-party syndrome can encapsulate a lot of issues. You might feel lazy, fatigued and reluctant to get on with your work and normal routine. The late nights, gorging on calorie-rich food and aerated or alcoholic drinks can take a toll on the intestines and the liver. The lack of sleep will affect your cognitive function.

While none of these are reasons to pass on the merriment, by taking a few smart measures, you can save yourself from the physical and emotional stress that is likely to bog you down.

Catch up on some sleep every now and then so that you’re not caught yawning in company during the party. Loss of sleep can be telling on the countenance and general health of the individual in the long run. You would do well to have plenty of salad, fruits and juices during the day to offset the heavy food that you might eat at night.

Following an exercise regime will help you burn off the calories you gained binge-eating and drinking over the past few weeks. It is wise to keep tab on the amount of liquor that you consume in order to avoid embarrassment, untoward incidents and accidents.

The emptiness you’re left with

Psychologists point out that people who throw or attend many parties could experience a sense of loss, emotional numbness and anxiety once the gala time is over. This usually happens because they might have run into people whom they no longer care for or simply wish to avoid. They might have lost track of important days in all the frenzy. Even as they pretend to be happy and confident, they might be upset and despondent.

Putting the past behind and learning to live in the moment is the way to deal with these painful emotions. New year parties are, after all, about ringing out the old and ringing in the new. When you run into someone you dislike or have complicated emotions for, flash an affable smile, offer a kind word and move on. Try to forgive and forget for your own peace of mind.

You must understand that anything that brings you happiness must be good and genuine for it to last long. Refrain from hypocrisy and try to be earnest in terms of behaviour and attitude. Good manners and courteous behaviour has never killed anyone. A dollop of unadulterated enthusiasm can spread chirpiness and good cheer all around.

If you think your emotional wounds are still raw or that you may not be able to handle nasty surprises, pre-empt the guest list. If it is not to your liking, excuse yourself from attending the party. This can save you a lot of trouble and unpleasantness.

The most telling sign of the post-party syndrome is the lacuna created by the sudden lack of activity, which could lead to boredom, frustration and irritability.

Once you understand that parties are for enjoyment, socialising and rejuvenating your spirits, you can spend the days after the party organising contact numbers and addresses for future use. You can redeem your promise about keeping in touch by sending flowers or cards to renew your friendship with those you like.

If you hear of good or bad things happening to those you care for, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and get talking. An unexpected friendly gesture can not only cheer them up but will also make you feel happy. Once you learn the art of coping with the post-party syndrome, you will find yourself looking forward to more such good times!

Dealing With the Dubious


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/514770/dealing-dubious.html

When cheating cases are investigated, it is interesting to note that everyone of them has been based on trust.

The individual or organisation works hard at winning the confidence of the people whom they propose to swindle. The evil masterminds devise ways and means to
play fair or at least appear fair. They leave no stone unturned, plug in all the loopholes and put on their best behaviour to woo the people whose wealth they plan to deceive.

A story from the Panchatantra teaches us how to deal with such dubious people or organisations.

Once an old crane realised that he was no longer agile and alert to fish for food. He was too conceited to seek help. Therefore, he made a devious plan.

He stood on the edge of the lake and started shedding tears. A crab who lived in the pond wanted to know the reason for his sorrow. After much coaxing, the crane divulged that he was privy to a prophecy of a drought that would strike the region for the coming twelve years.

He said he was grieving for the helpless souls who would be losing their lives for no particular fault of theirs. Soon, this dreadful news was updated to all the inmates of the pond. They approached the crane one by one and asked him for a suitable solution.

Once the old crony was sure that all their attention was focused on him, he
generously offered to shift them all one at a time, once a day to another large water body which would not dry up despite the famine. The eager creatures lapped up his offer gratefully.

The old crane commenced with his charitable act of helping the fish migrate. He would fly a while with his passenger and then polish him off for lunch, only to make a meal of another fish the following day. No one suspected anything foul in the happenings.

A couple of days later, the crab requested the crane to shift him. The crane who wanted a change of taste, happily agreed to help the crab. The following day, when the old bird was flying along his regular route with the crab on his back, the crustacean saw a number of fish bones piled on a rock.

He was intelligent enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together. He felt sorry for his gullible pond mates. He decided to avenge their unfair death and also save his own life and promptly strangled the crane to death.

The common man who has been conned will be able to trace a pattern in the  crime if he pays enough attention. If all the victims of the fraud come together and expose the malefactor, the law of the land will take care of the rest.